Being asked to be the maid of honor for your favorite bride-to-be is really special. It indicates that not only does she think of you as one of the most significant women in her life, but as someone she can rely on and trust to help her with the wedding planning process. Pretty cool, right?
That being said, receiving this honor often brings other emotions besides joy and flattery—things like “anxiety” and “stress.” It makes sense why maids of honor often feel these conflicting emotions: if you've never been a maid of honor before, then you probably have no idea what the process involves and what duties will ultimately fall upon your shoulders.
And as a result? Many get really, really stressed out. This thought breaks our hearts because, though not a thing to be taken lightly, being entrusted with the title of maid of honor should be a fun and exciting opportunity to bond on a totally new level with the woman you call your best friend.
With ensuring happiness in mind, we set out to do the leg work and create a comprehensive checklist of important maid of honor duties for gals in despair. If you want to totally rock your new job (and do your bestie proud!) read on to get a handle on your maid of honor responsibilities—and begin your MOH experience on the right foot!
Who is the Maid of Honor?
First things first. Before we jump into the maid of honor's role in all things wedding-related, let's quickly cover who the maid of honor is.
The maid of honor (of, if you're married, the matron of honor) is the bride's right-hand woman. Generally, a bride choose a maid of honor for two reasons:
- They're someone extremely close to the bride (like a best friend, sister, or other close family member); and
- They're an organized person the bride can trust to support her before, during, and after her big day.
Being a maid of honor is, as the name suggests, a huge honor—but it's an honor that comes with a lot of responsibilities.
So what, exactly, does a maid of honor do—and what will your responsibilities be in supporting your friend throughout planning the wedding and saying her "I do's.
Maid of Honor Duties
Before the Big Day
- Give your help and advice when it’s requested. Yes, only when it’s requested. Sure, you can feel free to offer it at any time, but unless the bride-to-be takes you up on it, don’t try to force your way into helping out or offering unwanted opinions. If the bride does ask for your help or advice, go ahead and give it your all!
- Be an emotional support system and confidant. Wedding planning is stressful, so check in regularly and let her know you're a person she can go to when she needs to vent, cry, and let it all out.
- Keep the bride laughing and smiling. See above! Like we said, this is an often stressful time for the bride, so do your darndest to keep her in good spirits from “yes” to “I do.”
- Organize and lead the bridesmaids. In many ways, the maid of honor is the leader of the rest of the bridal party, so don’t be shy about taking the reins when it comes to importation tasks like buying and altering bridesmaid dresses, planning the bachelorette party, etc. If the wedding party needs to pay for any wedding-related events or items (for example, a hotel for the bachelorette party or a gift from the bridesmaids for the engagement party), the maid of honor may also collect those payments.
- Go wedding dress shopping. If your bride wants another opinion on her wedding attire—and she asks you to attend!—you should make yourself available to go shopping for her wedding gown and to attend any additional dress fittings before the wedding.
- Plan the pre-wedding events. By “pre-wedding,” we mean the bridal shower (or couples shower) and the bachelorette party, if she wants these events (and not every bride does!).
- Spread the word about the registry. When planning said events, don’t be afraid to spread the word among guests where the bride and groom are registered.
- Keep record of the gifts at all events. As the bride and/or couple open gifts, jot down who gave what gift and what exactly it was. This will help the bride tremendously when she sits down to write thank-you notes.
- Attend all pre-wedding parties. Your presence will definitely help the bride feel more relaxed. After all, you are her right-hand gal.
- Write your wedding day toast. If the bride has requested a maid of honor speech at the reception, don’t wait until the day before or day of the wedding to prep for yours. Unless you’re a seasoned speaker, the bride and everyone else will be able to tell that you didn’t take this responsibility very seriously. (Talk about a surefire way to hurt feelings!). Read tips on how to write a great wedding toast.
On the Big Day
You’ll have plenty of tasks to keep you busy on the day of, especially if your bride-to-be didn’t hire a wedding planner. Here’s everything a maid of honor is typically responsible for on the day of the wedding:
- Know the wedding day timeline like the back of your hand so you can make sure everything stay on schedule and that you and the ‘maids are where you need to be at all times.
- Keep a list of vendor and family numbers on you. This way you won’t have to go scrambling for numbers or bother the bride when something goes awry.
- Be the “go-to” person should any problems arise. The “go to” person should never ever be the bride, so if there is no wedding planner, make it clear to everyone that you are that person and deal with any hiccups or temperamental guests that come up throughout the big day.
- Pack an emergency kit. bride's right-hand woman band-aids last-minute DIY
- Make sure the bridesmaids are informed and on schedule. Make sure each bridesmaid has an itinerary and throughout the day do a quick check to make sure each ‘maid is where she needs to be and ready to go. That doesn’t mean you should turn into a bossy tyrant or treat everyone else like children; it simply means that you should just do your best to keep everyone organized and on track.
- Help the bride get ready. If the hair dresser needs bobby pins, grab some. If the bride needs help bustling her dress, bustle her up. Basically, be ready and on hand to grab or do whatever the bride and her vendors need to get her ready and looking flawless.
- Run errands for the bride. During the pre-ceremony portion of the day, the bride is often tied down to the beauty chair with makeup artists and hair stylists crowded around her. Obviously, she can’t get up and get her phone, grab a snack, relay messages to the groom, etc., so be the person who does those things for her. It will really help her relax and stay calm during the stressful hours of morning prep.
- Keep the groom’s ring safe and secure. Experts (otherwise known as wedding planners) say that the best way to keep track of the groom’s ring is to wear it on your thumb. If it’s too big for your thumb, stow it away somewhere you know it will be safe and you can access it in a snap. Nothing will be worse than standing at the ceremony and realizing that you’ve left his ring back in the bridal suite.
- Help keep the bride relaxed. Make sure no drama or stress from family or guests reaches her. If she has any pre-wedding jitters, help her calm down by telling her jokes, taking trips down memory lane, or popping on a playlist of her favorite songs. And, one more time (just because it’s just that important!): for goodness’ sake, do your best to keep drama and over-the-top guests and family members away.
During the Ceremony
- Fluff the bride’s train as needed. Give the dress a fluff right before she walks down the aisle and after she arrives at the alter. Then, help her adjust throughout the day if something is out of sorts.
- Hold the bride’s bouquet during the vow exchange. Keep this detail in the back of your mind when the ceremony begins. Often, the bride and the maid of honor both forget about this detail and the exchange gets a bit fumbled and awkward. Before she walks back down the aisle after the first kiss, give her back her bouquet—this is another big one that both the maid of honor and bride forgets!
- Hand over the groom’s ring at the right time. Like we said, make sure you have the ring all ready to go when this big moment arrives. During this portion, definitely keep it on your thumb and not tucked away inside your dress (trust us, it’s gonna be awkward for you to pull the ring out of your bra or out of the deep depths of your dress when you’ve got two fat bouquets in hand).
Before and During Reception
- Help the bride bustle, change outfits, etc., as needed. Make yourself ready and available during transitions throughout the day so you can help the bride easily change out of one outfit to another, bustle her dress, or, when the time arises, go to the bathroom.
- Help the bride stay hydrated and make sure she eats something. Between greeting guests, dancing, and participating in traditional wedding activities (bouquet toss, cake cutting, etc.), the bride often doesn’t have time to fill up her drink or grab a bite of food on the wedding day. Do all that you can to hand her a drink throughout the day (whether that's water or bubbly!), refill her glass when it’s empty, and help her sneak in a meal…even if it’s a quick one. Your bff will thank you for it!
- Act as a greeter and hostess for guests. Point the guests to the guest book station, favors, gift tables, etc., throughout the day so all the guests don’t go rushing to the happy couple with these inquiries.
- Give your maid of honor toast. Make sure you are available and ready when the hour of your toast arrives. As in, don’t be off in the bathroom or down the hall packing up gifts while everyone is waiting for you to take the mic.
- Help the bride pack up her things (or already have it done). Discuss this with the bride before the wedding day and make a plan. Whatever you agree upon, make sure her wishes are fulfilled before it’s time to exit the celebration.
- Make sure the wedding gifts/cards are transported to the appointed car. Since it’s likely you’ll be helping the bride throughout the entire reception, it’s probably best to appoint someone to handle this task (often a groomsman). Just follow up with said person and make sure it has been accomplished before it’s time for the big send-off.
- Take care of the bride’s dress if she changes into send-off outfit. If the bride does end up changing into another outfit before the getaway, take responsibility for caring for her dress while she’s on the honeymoon. That said, don’t just run off with it without having already discussed it with the bride.
- Stay for any needed cleanup duties. Just because the bride and groom have driven off in their send-off car and guests are leaving doesn’t mean that you should pack up and do the same. As maid of honor, it’s respectful and proper to stick around and make sure that the venue is cleaned up and left in tip-top shape. Before you take off your heels and bid everyone adieu, do a quick sweep and handle any tasks that are left unfinished and any mess that has been left behind.
See? Being a maid of honor isn’t all that difficult! All that separates you from being stressed and having the time of your life is just the short little maid of honor duties checklist we've laid out—so don’t make your MOH journey without it.